RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazil announced on Tuesday a temporary suspension of fish exports to the European Union after inspectors from the European bloc detected irregularities in the way some Brazilian firms apply food-safety regulations.
The halt will take effect on Jan. 3 in conjunction with the implementation of an action plan aimed at addressing the concerns raised by the EU following an audit in September, Brazil’s agriculture ministry said in a statement.
The aim of the suspension is to pre-empt possible unilateral action by the EU and lay the basis for resuming exports once the problems have been resolved, the ministry said.
The action plan calls for intensive inspection of the ships used by Brazilian seafood exporters to transport goods to Europe.
At the same time, Brazil plans to ask the EU to establish different standards for wild-caught and farm-raised fish.
Because the problems identified by EU inspectors were confined to the wild-caught category, creating a clear distinction between the two would allow the export of farm-raised fish to resume more quickly, the ministry said.
The EU inspection mission focused on firms in the southern state of Santa Catarina, Brazil’s top seafood exporter.
Inspectors detected problems with six of the 10 companies they scrutinized.
The head of the Brazilian Fish Farming Association, Francisco Medeiros, said after a meeting with agriculture ministry officials that the suspension of exports should have been limited to the firms identified as having problems.
“The majority of plants are functioning within the law and complying with the European and the US demands, so their also being affected by the suspension can’t be justified,” he said.